Saturday, April 10, 2021

Awaiting Spring

Song of Solomon 2:11-13 
11 See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. 12 Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. 13 The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.

I look forward to spring every year. Truth is, I like seasons. So, in the late summer, I look forward to autumn. But this year more than any I can remember, I look forward to spring—the bright green of the grass and trees, the yellows and pinks of the flowers. The previous year has been difficult for everyone, some more than others. Somehow I feel like the arrival of spring will help me REALLY feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel. 

But here in the Pacific Northwest, it is slow in coming. Yes, we have had some warm and sunny days. But then the next day is cold and dreary and rainy again. It is usually spring-like here at this time of year. I’m impatient. We have a frost warning for tonight. Seriously?

I have been keeping very busy, so it’s not that I’m bored. I have been cooking a lot. A Lot. I have caught up with my scrapbooking. I have been thinking and planning. I have been enjoying our 3-year-old great grandson, and his new baby sister—in person and through pictures. 

My art has helped me maintain sanity, I suppose. I have to tell myself that I’m still not that GOOD at it—that, mainly, I enjoy the process and am okay with the finished product. 

Here are some recent works:










The last one here, the Eurasian Blue Tit (I know, but it’s short for “titmouse” and it really IS its name) is not a bird I have ever seen—I don’t think we have them in America. Here is the reference photo (the real bird that provided the reference for the painting):


So, come on, Spring. I don’t ask for much, just warmth and sunshine!

I know, it WILL come....

#EurasianBlueTit #watercolorpractice #mariaraczynskatutorial #spring 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Loose Watercolor Style (Not Really Me?)

One thing I have noticed about watercolor artists I “follow” and/or try to learn from (tutorials, etc.): Even the professionals sometimes veer away from their “signature” style, perhaps for a break, perhaps because their followers or students pressure them to do a different style. Whatever the reason, I’ve decided that if they can do it, I can do it. 

Here’s what I’m saying: I have determined that loose watercolor is not really my style. But sometimes doing a piece with that style does provide a bit of a break from routine for me.

So, I occasionally step outside the box of more controlled painting, into the “loose” arena. 

More on why it is NOT my preferred style: I have always thought it was somewhat paradoxical for someone to say, “Try to relax.” If you have to try, you are not relaxing. You can’t really relax while working at relaxing. In the world of art, when I attempt a piece in a loose style, it’s like trying to relax. “Loose” is antithetical to my way of thinking/doing just about anything. (For that reason, maybe it’s a good thing for me as a stretching exercise.)

Now, I will say that even my attempts at using the loose style are NOT attempts to use the extremely loose, watery, runny style that many artists can do with beautiful results. Even my attempts at loose are illustrative, a fun style that is loose when compared to a very controlled style, but still somewhat controlled. My attempts at the other style (controlled and more detailed—more ME), are still not the total realism that makes people wonder if your art is actually a photograph. So perhaps I’m usually more in the middle, though leaning strongly toward controlled and realistic.

The last couple of days I have taken a break from my usual style and completed a few pieces “just for fun.” However, referring back to my observation about “try to relax,” I will admit that even these pieces that are loose (and supposedly more “fun”) were not really as much “fun” for me as trying to create a controlled and more detailed piece. Still, a break.

Here are the three loose pieces I created in the last couple of days.






For comparison, here are some of the more “controlled” pieces I have done in the last couple of weeks. Note: still not total realism, but not loose or illustrative either.











Next I will complete my January scrapbook pages and then back to more watercolor practice.

#watercolorpractice #watercolorfox #loosewatercolorduck #watercolorpuppy #loosewatercolorbighornsheep #watercolormountainbluebird #watercolorhino #watercolorgreenlemons #loosewatercolor 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

All in a Day’s Work

I’ve always been pretty “big” on routine. That’s not to be taken as “boring” or “in a rut.” I suppose I was raised to think there is value in having certain routines, even in retirement. 

For example, we make our bed every morning. I say “we” because I haven’t made our bed myself in a few years. That’s something my husband does to help me, so that I don’t get a backache. But it is part of our morning routine (as is coffee and watching the birds at the feeders).


My daily routine varies from time to time (see, not so boring) but almost always includes Quiet Time, devotional and Bible reading, prayer time, walking, coffee times, cooking and communicating with friends and family (usually via social media and texting).

My daily step goal is 10,000 steps, and when the weather is not conducive, that means lots of walking around in the house. Ugh! Tough to get that many steps. I don’t always make it all the way to 10,000, sometimes 7,500. But usually 10,000.



So I pass some of that time by listening to the Bible (currently reading through the Bible chronologically through one of the plans in the Bible app), through AirPods, as well as listening to daily devotionals from the First 15 app.

Another routine while walking is to pray over my Prayer Circles in my Prayer Journal.




From my son and wife I learned about “The Chosen” series as well as the little devotional book, “The Chosen: 40 Days with Jesus.” I am going through that during my Quiet Time now. I got a little journal to keep notes and prayers from the devotional study.



Since we are not going much of anywhere these days (Covid restrictions here in WA state are a bit extreme), and coffee is sort of a hobby for us, we recently got a new coffee maker and are now using a system other than a Keurig for some of our daily coffee times.


For espresso, we use the Nespresso machine with Nespresso capsules. For the Keurig, we use Kcups. But in order to use the new TechniVorm MoccaMaster Coffee brewer with the fresh roasted Colombian beans from Fresh Roasted Coffee, we needed a burr grinder. The OXO was highly recommended.



Most days we have three meals: usually granola or yogurt for breakfast, larger meal (sometimes Home Chef) for the middle of the day meal, and something light for supper. (My “big meal” is usually on Sunday when all the Washington family comes to our house for Sunday Dinner after church. Love that.)

Most days I do some art or some scrapbooking. 

I just completed the 2020 Scrapbook Album. 


I have also been placing some of my artwork in frames and using for a bit of decor “around the house.”











Today I finished another watercolor black-capped chickadee. I am finding that “creatures” are my most enjoyable watercolor subjects.


So, perhaps the only value in writing this post is so that I can answer my own question, “What in the world did you do with yourself today?” 

#dailyroutines #watercolor #scrapbooking #coffee #technivormmoccamaster #oxoburrgrinder #nespresso #keurig #freshroastedcoffee #thechosen #chickadee #prayercircles #prayerjournal #quiettime #fitbitversa2 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

A Goal for the New Year {Aging GRACEFULLy}


My little watercolor kitty makes me smile. She is so sweet.

As I think about the new year, I want to focus on things that make me smile. Of course I have a lot of goals... goals about my projects, reading the Bible through, being what God wants me to be, serving, loving, being kinder and sweeter, having more grace, being a better wife, a better Mom, a better Mamo...on and on goes my list that I pray over each day...

But sometimes I come across something that someone else has written, that makes me think: 
“That. Right there. That’s it. That’s how I want to be.”

The following is copied.

I love it.

The beautiful, well-versed 83 year old lady, fully dressed every morning at 8 am sharp, with her hair done in fashion and perfectly applied makeup, is moving to a retirement home.  Her husband recently died, which motivated her move.

After many hours of patiently waiting in the hall of the home, she smiled sweetly, when told her room was ready.

As she moved her walker toward the elevator, she was given a detailed description of her small room, including the curtains hanging from her window.

′′ I love it,” she said, with the enthusiasm of an 8-year-old girl who was just handed a new pet.
“Mrs. Jones, you haven't seen the room, just wait.”
“That doesn't matter,” she replied.
“Happiness is something you decide over time. Whether or not I like my room doesn't depend on how the furniture is arranged, it depends on how I arrange my mind.

“I’ve already decided that I like it. It's a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have the choice; I can spend the day in bed, going through the difficulty I have with my body parts that don't work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the parts that do work.

“Every day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open, I will focus on the new day and the happy memories I've stored just for this time in my life.”

HAPPINESS is like a bank account: you withdraw from it, what you deposit.

So my advice would be to deposit a lot of happiness into your memory account.

Remember these five simple things:

1.- Free your heart from hate/discord.
2.- Free your mind from worries.
3.- Live Simply.
4.- Give more.
5.- Take less.
❤️

#watercolor #watercolorkitten #aginggracefully #finishwell #itisadecision #itisachoice

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

A Little Girl and a Little Boy {Old Timey-Times}

A few years ago, when I was knee-deep in mixed media projects, I made several little “board books.” I did not save most of those, but there is one that is very special to me. I happened to see that little book today and decided that a “look back” might be fun. In retrospect, I can’t believe how much time and effort I put into this book, but I’m so glad I did, because it is now very special to me. I photographed the “pages” today and will share it here.

Talk about a “look back” into the “old timey-times!”

Note: This book is about my hubby and me, our first three grades of elementary school (we neither one went to kindergarten). But, we did not meet each other until my husband was starting 9th grade, and I was starting 7th grade. So, after the fact, after we were married even, I got some of his old pictures from his mom.

Another side note: Just for fun, at one point, I had a company make my own print handwriting into a digital font file. So, the printing on the little tags inside the pockets of the book are actually my own printing, though typed.

*In order to read all the little true stories that are on some of the tags, you may want to click to enlarge the photo.





















#oldtimeytimes #boardbooks #mixedmedia #primaryschool 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Christmas and Winter Theme {Watercolor}

Sometimes I enjoy the tough challenge of painting a bird or an animal. Those are difficult for me, but I am usually okay with the finished product, more pleased with some than others. 

This is only my second winter/Christmas season with my new watercolor hobby, and I must admit I love the FUN of painting things like snowmen and Christmas ornaments. So much easier than creatures!!



All of these paintings were inspired by Maria Raczynska.







While I truly do celebrate Christmas because it is about the birth of Christ, His coming to earth as a baby, to live as a man (fully man/fully God), and to die on a cross as the payment for my sins, I do also enjoy the light-hearted and fun things of the season, like snowmen and Christmas balls!

#watercolorsnowman #watercolor #Christmasballs #ornaments #watercolor #newhobby #MerryChristmas #BirthofJesus



Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Thoughts That Bring Life and Peace {Watercolor} {Heartstrings}


A few days ago I wrote a blog piece about God’s creatures and why I love them so much, maybe more than ever right now. (That post is here.)

My sentimental leaning toward little creatures (especially soft and cuddly ones) probably inspired me to attempt this little watercolor kitten, following a tutorial by my favorite art teacher, Maria Raczynska. My little kitty is just that—mine—as it doesn’t look that much like Maria’s little kitty. But that’s okay. It’s mine. My painting, that is. I do not own, nor have I ever owned a kitten/cat. But they are cute and cuddly-looking.

I’ve been thinking more about why I am so drawn to little creatures right now (apart from my obvious over-endowment of maternal instinct). And it comes to me today that perhaps one reason (among hundreds) why I miss my little Sassi Girl so much is because she was a constant. She never waivered in her unconditional love for me. She wanted nothing more in this world than to be with me, to be loved by me, no matter what. And she loved me, no matter what. She wasn’t interested in current events. The pandemic, the election, the riots, the upside-down state of our country right now—none of that was a part of her world. Her world was her family. Her people. And that was calming to me. When she was on my lap, none of the bad stuff of the world seemed to matter. Her world/my world = simply, mutual love.



So many things in my world today (and not just me, this has to be true for most of us right now) are not just upsetting, but worse than that, traumatic. Trauma is not good. The depression, bitterness, anger, fear, and all of those bad feelings that tend to accompany thoughts about what is going on around us—those things cannot long live in my heart without taking a physical, mental and emotional toll. 

I miss being able to hold Sassi on my lap while I pray and refocus.

This morning’s Facebook post from our son was exactly what I needed to hear (not the part about how he was awake in the middle of the night, but the rest of it). I share it here in hopes that it will help someone else.
 
Post from Mark Ford, Facebook, December 1, 2020:

“What’s on your mind?” That’s what Facebook asks. I’m not sure I could begin to tell you. It’s 2:30 a.m. and there’s way too much on my mind. Things that were not on anyone’s mind last year at this time. Things I never worried about before. Tons of things. And by that I mean heavy things. On top of all the usual things that were there before 2020. Personal things. Family things. Church things. America things. Global things. Temporal things. Eternal things. Past things. Present things.  Future things. Decisions. Challenges. Disappointments. Worries. Fears. Hopes. Dreams. Hurts. Frustrations. Confusion. Discouragements. Plans. Prayers. 

“What is on your mind?” What a terrible question. Terrible. 

And literally in this moment, as I am typing, I remember one of my memory verses: Romans 8:6. It says, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace.”

I’ve been talking to myself when I needed to talk to Jesus. 

End transmission.

Yep, that’s my little boy, the one who has always, since he was a toddler, had such a tender heart and such a busy mind, always feeling for people and always wishing he could make everything okay. Not just wishing. Thinking. Planning. Solving. 

My little boy is now my pastor, and I’m thankful that he is, and that he has been my spiritual mentor for many years now.

I need to refocus. I am very upset by what is going on around me. But the true eternal constant in my life is Jesus Christ. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. I pray that I will stop talking to myself and talk more to Jesus. 

Because setting my mind on The Spirit will bring life and peace. 

Peace. I need that.

#watercolor #SassiGirl #watercolorkitten #Romans86 #thinkontheSpirit #helpforthesetimes #lifeandpeace #peace